It has a beautifully renovated space — new carpet, new paint, and inspirational sayings from the Dalai Lama and the like plastered on the walls. Students are busy spending their $5,000 grants to help them bring new products and ideas to market. This is the Hatchery, home of the University of Canterbury’s Summer Start-Up Programme for UC Innovators, which is part of the Centre for Entrepreneurship. The Centre is busy trying to fulfill one of the university’s Graduate Profile pledges: to make its graduates employable, innovative, and enterprising.
Looking past the punctuation error in the first sentence of the programme’s webpage, one finds that last year’s programme included a socially responsible non-profit theatre company trying to encourage youth participation in the arts (is it ironic that the university dissolved the Theatre programme but is now funding students to form a theatre non-profit?). A UC article on this year’s programme emphasizes that students are considering the ethical and sustainable elements in their start-ups. There appears to be an effort to highlight the veneer of social and ethical responsibility rather than the kinds of ideas that might be expected to come out of such a programme: products that seek to maximise profit in a capitalist system.
Meanwhile, UC Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Morgan Miles recently gave a guest lecture at an alumni event about the Centre, as well as a presentation on how teachers can incorporate entrepreneurship into their classrooms. It was not clear how the less business-focused subjects and courses on campus will benefit from the new push toward entrepreneurial thinking.
According to the UC Innovation Entrepreneurship Strategy 2013-2015 document (pg. 5),
It is UC’s goal that all staff and students should be capable of innovative practice to some degree, and should have an informed understanding of what it is to be entrepreneurial. This will be achieved through:
[…] Assisting academic staff to understand innovation, innovative practice and entrepreneurial activity, for their own use and to convey to their students, and to recognise when they have been innovative. […] (bold added)
The key words are “all staff and students”. How will staff in the less business-focused of the five colleges (Arts; Business & Law; Education, Health and Human Development; Engineering; Science) teach their students to be innovative and enterprising? Should they have to?
University of Canterbury. 2013 March 26. “UC Innovation Entrepreneurship Strategy 2013-2015.”